Your dinner invitation for next Saturday evening is very generous and greatly appreciated, but I will be unable to join you and your other guests for one or more of the following reasons:
A. I am a shy, solitary person who prefers to remain cloistered in the quiet and isolation of his Sanctum Sanctorum -- now with DirecTV. For future reference, you should be aware that it is only because I am, on occasion, compelled to leave the house -- to work or attend school or pick up my newspaper off the lawn or obtain a controlled substance -- that I ever made your unsought acquaintance in the first place and I'm now begging you to leave me the hell alone.
B. You live in the suburbs, Mr. and Ms. Weed & Feed, and my sense of adventure doesn't include exposing myself to the toxic allergens and rabid opossums, the overblown barbecue bonhomie and overall aesthetic stasis of your stultifying bricks-and-vinyl-siding prefabricated nightmare. But thanks so much for thinking of me.
C. Having eaten nearly 5,000 consecutive identical meals (half a Sara Lee Cheesecake and a bottle of Mountain Dew, followed by, for dessert, half a Sara Lee Cheesecake) since June 19, 1987, I am over halfway to making the Guinness Book of World Records in the Consecutive Identical Meals (Packaged/Processed Foods) Category.
Since I doubt that this is your intended meal plan and since, if you were to decide to serve this menu I would feel that you were mocking or patronizing me, which would ruin my appetite and therefore negate the purpose of having any dinner at all, I will, of necessity, be dining at home that evening.
D. I swore the last time I was around your child/ren that the next time I was around your child/ren I would indulge my urge to kick the life out of his/her/their aggravating, unmanageable and unmanaged ass/es.
E. You have odd hair and I feel uncomfortable around it.
F. Your home is not handicap accessible. And while, yes, I realize that I am in no way physically handicapped, it's the goddamned principle of the thing. Besides, what if I were to become handicapped while at your house for dinner? How would I get out? (And believe me, if I became paralyzed or crippled or was otherwise stricken at your home, I'd be plenty pissed about it and would want to leave immediately.) Thanks but no thanks.
G. Your lifestyle makes me feel totally inadequate/too materialistic. If only you had more/less stuff. Jetted/drove to more/fewer vacation spots closer to/further from home. Dressed with some measure of style and taste, you Gap-draped drone./Stopped flaunting the fancy-shmancy designer labels, for Christ's sake. And what's with your car? A ride like that really sends a message about who you are and how you see yourself, and clearly we're from different worlds. Until we're closer in income and core values (who knows, in the coming years our lives might converge when you're on the way up/down and, conversely, I'm on the way down/up) I think it's best we not break enriched white bread/rosemary-olive focaccia together.
H. One or more of those around the dinner table is sure to have voted for The Politician Formerly Known as Governor Bush (he is not the President). This indicates a level of mental acuity that can only mean I'll spend most of my evening cutting up their meat for them, a duty I respectfully pre-decline.
I. I will be out of town leading the other half of my double life and that life's wife and I are going to a dinner party with people I respect too much to even think about declining their generous offer. Ah, well, I suppose conflicts like this are to be expected.
I hope you understand that I am entirely unwilling to take the time and far too indifferent to make the effort to indicate which explanation applies to your invitation specifically. So please choose whichever ones reinforce your existing notions about yourself and/or me and accept my impersonal regrets.